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Not so much a learning environment so much as a learning tool kit


FIG.1. Projected onto the sitting room wall

The migration between kit and now the use of multiple devices tells its own story – that and my enhanced levels of digital literacies.

And dependency on my Open University blog???

I am too used to starting there then cutting and pasting the HTML results into WordPress (here). This platform works because it is kept simple. OK, you have to get your head around a few basics (which are good for any blogging platform), but the thing is stable and robust – it hasn’t changed much in three years and it is always there.

Either I’ll wean myself off it or I’ll plugin to another module of course and be here for another decade.

You get used to a thing – especially when it works. Calls to other institutions regarding their VLE have left me cold – some still old school box of books and turn up for an all day Saturday face-to-face once a month as your only tutor and peer group contact.

From a clapped out Mac Book that died and a Psion I moved on to a borrowed PC laptop … and scrounging computer access around the home. Only recently I got a Mac Mini – for the previous 18 months I’ve been fine on an iPad with moments on my wife’s PC to view and print off DOCX.

The Mac Mini gets what ever screen my teenage son leaves me with – he tends to snaffle away any new screen I get, just swaps them over. I may take me days to realise something is afoot.

And then there is the above – projected onto a wall with me working on a wifi keyboard and touchpad. It changes things. Next to this screen there is a large whiteboard. I get up and doodle.

As for the sitting room? Long gone.

Cries for a TV to bring the family together fall on deaf ears. Why would any of us gather to watch ONE version of an event when we can each take or leave our news, or films, or anything else as we please on a bigger or smaller screen in various other rooms and cubby-holes around the house?

An iPad mini will replicate when I had a decade ago with a Psion, something handheld, light and discrete that I can tap on whenever I wish and wherever I am.

 

 

‘The Private Life of the Brain’ Susan Greenfield is my current highly recommended read. It is certain to take you off on a tangent from whatever you are studying, but if offers a layperson’s view of the inner workings of the brain.

 

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2 Comments

  1. Hi Jonathan,
    Interesting to read that you like Greenfield’s book. I decided not to read it after a scathing review from Ben Goldacre on Bad Science (http://www.badscience.net/2011/11/why-wont-professor-greenfield-publish-this-theory-in-a-scientific-journal/.), stressing the lack of evidence for some of her claims.

    Also interesting to see the image of the screen. How do you use it, for what purposes? Why not using a TV with internet capacity?

    Stefaan

    • mymindbursts says:

      Well, Ben Goldacre is either naive, in denial, or plain lazy. I got in touch with Susan Greenfield directly and her office provided an extensive reading list. Prof. Greenfield has nearly 40 years of studying neuroscience at the university of Oxford behind her, all I have is a Master of Arts in Open and Distance Education and an interest in how the brain works in relation to learning. Just writing this is creating new connections and reinforcing old ones. The only time I might assume the brain is finally in decay is when the person is in a coma – or has suffered brain trauma. Even as someone dies, if they are conscious they are learning new things. Ben Goldacre writes as a journalist and tends to the sensational to get attention, academic research and writing is generally far more dull and inconclusive. Though I feel Susan Greenfield can tip in this direction too at times – when I look for examples of how a person’s mind has been altered by their circumstances beyond what nature gave them I think of shell shocked soldiers of the First World War, not teenagers in their bedroom playing 2 dimensional video games for hours on end. Ten billion neurons and whatever nature initially assembles as a foetus becomes sentient is a miracle of adaptability to the circumstances and century into which we are born. Unless a person has a mental illness it strikes me that far more fundamental motivators and desires see us grow up, fall in love and procreate – as nature intended with a myriad of wonderful variations on this.

      As for the projector:

      I use it to project images onto a large canvas. I paint complex scenes of trees. Am I cheating?
      To keep up the momentum when writing I move from one device to another – reading and writing in bed, at my desk, on a walk … or standing up at a lectern while looking at a screen. Standing up makes your writing more demonstrative and you get a sense of audience.
      Watching movies! The wall is the screen.
      Studying and dwelling upon some of the larger mindmaps I’ve created – these become very detailed. I suppose what I need is an electronic whiteboard.

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